Devil's Playground (2002)
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Critic Reviews for Devil's Playground
Devil's Playground is a classic exposition of the choice between freedom and order, between a closed society and an open one.
a reasonably entertaining and extremely insightful 77-minute examination of Amish culture, giving us privy to a world we'd never otherwise experience
Lucy Walker neither criticizes, romanticizes nor patronizes her subject.
Dangerously close to Jerry Springer and Girls Gone Wild material.
Audience Reviews for Devil's Playground
Proves pretty definitively that teenagers are teenagers no matter how they're raised.
A rare, intimate look into the lives of a group of Amish kids during the period, at age 16, when they are allowed to sample what life has to offer in the "English" world. The Amish are a sect apart and that separation is what is on view here. Unique in their approach to their children is the Rumspringa, based on the idea that the choice to be baptized and to adhere to the Amish way of life must be undertaken freely and upon one's attaining the age of "accountability". These teens are not meant to be representative, as the film clearly states that 90% of Rumspringa teens return to the faith, but were most likely chosen because they pointed up the conflicts inherent in making that choice. What made this film interesting was to watch the indecision, the changing of minds, the pain that accompanied their choice no matter which way they went. Of particular interest was the story of Velda, whose choices led to her being ostracized by the community. This may not be definitive, but for one only somewhat familiar with the customs, this proved to be quite intriguing.
An occasionally interesting documentary chronicling the lives of five different individuals who try to experience life in the "real world" once they are given the opportunity to abandon their Amish roots. While the film is definitely surprising and compelling in parts, it fails to achieve a balance between its people involved, centering in on one more than the others (that being Faron), making the whole film feel sort of off-balanced from beginning to end. While it's definitely shocking to see how these individuals break away so fast, and in some cases, dangerously fast, the film makes it seem like their people's personal problems is what was their main downfall, when in reality, since most Amish kids don't have anything past a high school education, they, are essentially screwed from the start when it comes to hoping to fulfilling a successful lifestyle.
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